Just southeast of Bagamoyo are these atmospheric ruins. At their centre are the remains of a 13th-century mosque, which is one of the oldest in mainland Tanzania and also one of the oldest in East Africa. It was built in the days when the Sultan of Kilwa held sway over coastal trade, and long before Bagamoyo had assumed any significance.
Nearby is a second mosque, dating to the 15th century, and about 22 graves, many dating to the same period. Among the graves are several Shirazi pillar-style tombs reminiscent of those at Tongoni, but in somewhat better condition, and a small museum housing Chinese pottery fragments and other remnants. Just east of the ruins, past a dense stand of mangroves, is the old harbour, now silted, that was in use during Kaole’s heyday.
And If history is your passion, then Bagamoyo is the destination. This Tanzanian town is home to some intriguing ancient ruins, ripe with discovery.
The Ruins of Kaole date back to about the 13th-century and are composed of a couple of mosques and several tombs with Islamic impressions. One of these mosques is the oldest in all of Africa. The area was once inhabited by an ancient Shirazi group – a Swahili community, and is the burial place of the revered leaders of the area. What makes the structure of the tombs so interesting is the medium used in their development. A pebbled limestone made up of ancient material from the coral reef, known as “coral rag” was used in conjunction with columns to build thick walls that have mostly fallen, but are still very noticeable today.